Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 75

California California RANGEland trust FARMland trust C alifornia Rangeland Trust conserves open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California’s ranches. Founded in 1998, this non-profit organization has protected more than 320,000 acres of private, working rangeland throughout the state. In California, 62 percent of open space is private rangeland, but these landscapes are rapidly disappearing. California Rangeland Trust works to balance necessary urban development with the protection of habitat for wildlife and food production. By partnering ranchers with funders to permanently protect working lands through mitigation projects and conservation agreements, California Rangeland Trust conserves rangeland to ensure it’s never developed. The organization depends upon community financial support and the public’s understanding of rangeland’s benefits. “While much of California is being lost to development,” says Nita Vail, CEO, “rangeland maintains critical open spaces that provide beautiful viewsheds, nutritious protein sources, carbon storage, healthy soils, endangered species habitat, renewable energy, and clean air and water. We must conserve working lands before it’s too late.” C alifornia Farmland Trust protects farmland throughout six Central Valley counties through conservation easements. Farmers retain ownership of their land, but this non-profit buys development rights so the properties will continue to be farmed forever, rather than built upon. California’s Central Valley produces roughly half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. “Only about five places on the planet are truly excellent for farming, and we’re right in the middle of the only one in the U.S.,” says Melanee Cottrill, Associate Director. “We can’t keep building on our farmland,” Cottrill emphasizes. “We must appreciate farmland for its ability to feed us, not as ‘empty land’ for malls and houses. We can’t just move farmland – California’s land, water, and climate can’t be replicated elsewhere – so we must protect it.” The organization relies on donations, but also communities’ support of policies at local levels that recognize the importance of conserving and protecting farmland for all of us. “Raley’s is growing the next generation of healthy eaters. Partnering with California Farmland Trust and California Rangeland Trust allows us to show how food is grown and emphasize the preservation of agricultural lands. It’s a great combination of nutrition education, sustainability education, and workforce development.” — Becca Whitman, Raley’s Community Relations Manager & Executive Director, Food for Families profiles generously sponsored by January 2019 | 75